McCrory Calls in His Pay-to-Play Posse Just Before Election Day to Try to Save His Re-Election Campaign - Costing Taxpayers Millions

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Just days after Gov. McCrory announces $4.9M in subsidies for company already based in North Carolina, now taxpayers shovel another $1.4M to a horse resort for the well-heeled. And what did McCrory get? $171K paid to him personally, and $26K to his campaign. 

Gov. Pat McCrory clasps hands in June with campaign donor and equestrian developer Mark Bellissimo at the Belmont Stakes in Belmont, New York.

CHARLOTTE -- Just days before Election Day, Gov. McCrory’s pay-to-play posse is galloping in to try to save the governor’s re-election campaign. McCrory has hitched his wagon to HB2, which has cost the state thousands of jobs, millions in revenue, and marquee events like the NBA All-Star Game. But now, for the second time this week, McCrory is trumpeting economic development plans tied to people who have either paid McCrory directly while he was governor or funneled tens of thousands of dollars into his re-election campaign. In events timed for Election Day, McCrory is bragging of jobs but hoping no one notices the pay-to-play connections.

Today’s announcement of a new horse resort which caters to the well-heeled in Rutherford County comes as a gift of $1.4M in tax incentives to Mark Bellissimo, a developer with ties to McCrory and Donald Trump. Bellissimo and his family (some younger than 24-years-old) have funnelled more than $26,000 to McCrory’s re-election campaign. The former mayor of Lake Lure said residents were “bamboozled” by zoning changes to accommodate Bellissimo and his Tryon Equestrian Properties. McCrory’s former Commerce Secretary, Sharon Decker, helped Bellissimo and Tryon Equestrian Properties land the state grants in January of 2014. Nine months later, Decker was working for Tryon Equestrian Properties in September of 2014.

The horse resort announcement comes just days after LendingTree announced new jobs for Charlotte, at a cost to taxpayers of $4.9M.  Completely ignored by McCrory was the inconvenient truth that LendingTree paid McCrory personally $171,000 three years ago, after he was sworn in as governor.  McCrory failed to report the income on his state ethics forms, as was required by law. Only after The Associated Press exposed McCrory did the governor correct the ethics form.

“Pat McCrory is the HB2 Governor who has trashed North Carolina’s business brand as a once forward-thinking progressive state,” said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director at Progress NC Action. “Now McCrory is calling in his Pay-to-Play Posse to try to save his re-election effort with 11th hour economic announcements saddled with hidden price tags to taxpayers and hidden benefits to McCrory himself.”

"It is also bizarre to hear McCrory claim that loss of the NBA All-Star Game is somehow eclipsed by a horse resort for the well-heeled," said Brenner. "Maybe some of McCrory's donors value an equestrian center more than basketball, but when the NBA, NCAA, and ACC all pull major events from our state, voters of all views understand how McCrory's HB2 has hurt North Carolina on so many fronts."

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